Feb 24, 2020








SUBJECTS: Labor’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050; domestic and family violence.


KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: Joining me is the Labor Leader, Anthony Albanese. Mr Albanese, thanks very much for your time. Now, you’ve set the target yet to provide all the detail on the pathway to get there. Did you consider waiting until you had a bit more flesh on the bone before the announcement?


ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Well Kieran, let’s be very clear here. We have 73 countries have set a target of net zero emissions by 2050. Every single state and territory has set the same target, including the governments of Gladys Berejiklian and New South Wales, Steven Marshall in South Australia. Last time I looked, any business or activity in Australia will take place in one of those states or territories. And the fact is as well, that the Business Council of Australia, BHP, Santos, Qantas, Telstra, all of these companies have all set a net zero emission by 2050. I mean, you had today in Parliament, the Government actually raised the issue of farming. Well, here is the NFF 2030 roadmap, Kieran. And what it says, what it says very clearly, and I will quote directly from it, ‘Australian agriculture is trending towards carbon neutrality by 2030’. The outliers here are the Government. And this is a Government that can’t say what the cost of inaction will be by 2050. We know that all of the analysis which has been done whether by the CSIRO, whether by Melbourne University, all speaks about higher growth, lower emissions, higher wages, and lower energy costs as a result of moving towards a net zero position.


GILBERT: But have you learned the lessons from the last election campaign where a vacuum in detail around, you are the alternative Government and it’s fair to point to all those businesses and so on, but they answer to their shareholders, you answer to the taxpayer, you need a bit more detail on the roadmap. You would recognise that, don’t you?


ALBANESE: Of course. And that is why what we’ll do is consult. And we’ve got a process of consultation with business and with the community. That, of course, will be ongoing. But I say this to you, Kieran. When did Scott Morrison go on your program or on Insider’s and be prepared to subject himself to a debate about the costs of inaction? Because I tell you what. We saw a bit of the cost of inaction over the bushfire season, when we lost 33 lives, when we lost over 3,000 homes, when we lost 12 million hectares of land. When we have who knows what the cost is. What we know is that the cost of that season certainly won’t be $2 billion that the Government talks about. We know that more extreme weather events, we know the predictions are an increase in droughts. We know the consequences of dangerous climate change are catastrophic for our economy. Global economists predict that the cost of a greater than two degrees increase in global temperatures will be between 15 and 25 per cent lower economic growth. A greater cost than we saw during the Great Depression. And one of the things that your job has to be, if I can be so bold, is to hold the Government to account that have Treasury, that have Finance, that won’t meet its 2030 target. That’s why they went to Madrid and argued for an accounting trick, rather than actually lowering the emissions.


GILBERT: Greg Combet, when he was Climate Minister, required that, you say it’s an accounting trick, but when he was the minister, when Labor was in Government, they required that to be part of that Kyoto arrangement. That carryover be afforded to governments who sign up. So, Labor says it’s an accounting trick now but previously it was a requirement for signing it.


ALBANESE: Kieran, that is absurd. The fact is that that’s absurd. The Paris Agreement was signed up to by Malcolm Turnbull, not by Labor. It’s the Paris Agreement, which is why the only countries that backed us up in Madrid were Saudi Arabia and a couple of the recalcitrance. The fact is that we don’t have in place an emissions trading scheme, which is when you have trading of credits and those issues. We don’t have that. The Government, in fact, have had at least 18 different energy policies without actually adopting any. They have floated 18 of them. If you can explain to me, Kieran. What is the Government’s energy policy today? Because I don’t know what it is. Maybe I have missed it. What is their policy? They are the Government, Kieran.


GILBERT: Sure, I will get to that in a moment.


ALBANESE: Kieran, that was about an emissions trading scheme. That was about an emissions trading scheme, Kieran. I am not talking about ancient history.


GILBERT: But also, about the carryover of the Kyoto phase one, you deny that?


ALBANESE: Kieran, you are talking with absolute nonsense, my friend. Because you are talking about an emissions trading scheme, is when you have credits and you could trade them with other countries. We don’t have an emissions trading scheme. We have a Government that doesn’t have any policies and has no way of meeting its targets. It is not going to get there. And it has put its hand up and said that it wasn’t going to get there when it went to Madrid last year, after earlier on. And they still say, ‘Oh, we are going to meet our targets’. Well, if that is the case, why are they doing these accountancy fiddles?


GILBERT: But explain to us why it is different if you have earned the credits in the first phase


ALBANESE: We don’t have an emissions trading scheme.


GILBERT: But why is it any different?


ALBANESE: Kieran, if we had a couple of hours, I could go through with you what an emissions trading scheme is and what the various methods are. Under Kyoto there was to be an emissions trading scheme where there was trading where you could trade carbon credits.




ALBANESE: We are not part of an emissions trading scheme. What was the score in the AFL on the weekend and how much of an impact did that have on rugby league? They are different sports, mate. It’s that simple. I’ve got to say, Kieran, whoever has briefed that out, try to talk about what Greg Combet who is no longer in the Parliament, hasn’t been in the Parliament for seven years. It says it all. It says it all that they are trying to spin that up in the gallery, because they’ve been there for seven years. And they don’t have a policy. They know what they are against. They don’t know what they are for.


GILBERT: Let’s move on. Because I do want to ask you about the political reality of today and this commitment that you’ve made. Can you see that it could cost you seats in Queensland in a political reality?




GILBERT: So, how then do you placate those constituents, members of your own side, Don Farrell, Joel Fitzgibbon, who want more detail in how you argue to those people, those employees of traditional sectors, that you are going to stand up for them?


ALBANESE: Because Kieran, this was a position that was adopted unanimously, last month. A month ago. You didn’t know about it. That’s because every single person at the Shadow Ministry supported it, and supported it strongly. We know indeed that also when the Government signed up to the Paris Agreement, and Malcolm Turnbull, of course, has belled the cat on this. This bloke was the Prime Minister when this occurred, he has said that it meant zero net emissions by 2050 and that he knows that that’s the case. This is the person who was the Prime Minister when it was agreed to. So, in terms of the going forward, what this will do, Kieran, is to support jobs, and support growth, and lower emissions, and lower energy prices. And if you take today, one of the Government ministers was talking about Gladstone. I went to Gladstone. I’d say to the Government that they should go there. Go to the Rio Tinto aluminium refinery there. What they’re talking about is expanding their business and producing a considerably greater production. And using solar energy. They want to build a solar energy plant to drive that increase in jobs, increase in production, and lower emissions, and lower costs. So, that’s why these businesses are all saying the same thing. They are talking about the way that they grow isn’t to pretend that nothing ever changes. It is to actually invest. And what we’ve seen over 2019, for example, because the Government doesn’t have a policy and because their answer to every question is to talk about Labor, rather than to talk about what the Government’s doing, we saw a 60 per cent fall, 60 per cent fall in renewable energy investment in 2019, compared with the year before. When you look at farming, one of the issues of net zero emissions is, of course, it’s not just about lowering emissions. It’s also about issues like carbon farming, about forestry, which in particular, at the moment, the devastation of the bushfires out of that one hopes that there are real opportunities.


GILBERT: Where are most of the opportunities though, in terms of the abatement, the offsets, because you just talked about carbon farming. Where else? Because if we’re going to get to net zero, obviously, it’s got to be much broader than that. Can you give us a sense of where else you see those offsets being achieved to get to net zero by 2050?


ALBANESE: Sure. When you look at areas like renewable hydrogen. In Perth, there’s actually a centre run by one of the big oil companies, by the way. What they’re doing there, you can go into a house today, that is powered by renewable hydrogen that not only has a zero impact in terms of the grid using energy, it is helping to power the businesses, the entire block of white-collar work, if you like, that’s taking place on their head office there in Perth. There are great examples of the opportunity that is there. There’s a whole range of them in Ross Garnaut’s book who talks about Australia being an energy exporting superpower. There are incredible opportunities here. The Business Council of Australia know it. BHP knows it. Santos knows it. Qantas knows it. The only people who don’t know it are some of the people in the Government. Not all of them, because the truth is a whole lot of them, Simon Birmingham, the Trade Minister said last week that he acknowledged that the net zero position was perfectly consistent with what the Government had signed up to in Paris.


GILBERT: Now, you raised in Parliament the Prime Minister questioning the framework of the bushfire recovery with New South Wales. Isn’t it fair for the PM to basically, as part of those negotiations, to be spending taxpayers funds judiciously?


ALBANESE: The question here is whether he has one thing to say to the New South Wales Premier and a different thing everywhere else. And the Prime Minister, of course, today we saw exposed in some of his answers the fact that he regards taxpayers’ money as LNP money. He defended it completely, the 83 per cent of the Urban Congestion Fund that has gone to Liberal and National seats and to marginal or targeted seats that the Government had, as if it was just their own money. And this was money that wasn’t election commitments. This is money that was in the Budget. Similarly, what we saw at one stage when the Prime Minister belatedly acknowledged that there was an issue with the fires that meant it needed a national approach, he said, ‘I’m going to do whatever is needed’. He said, ‘I won’t worry about surpluses. We are going to kick in here’. And at the same time, his ministers and people were white anting the Berejiklian Government and other state governments. They were busy backgrounding against them. And they were busy trying to negotiate in a way that would minimise the Commonwealth contribution in a way that was totally inconsistent with what he was actually saying publicly. That’s the problem here. And one of the things about this Prime Minister is, Australians are increasingly disappointed by his performance because they’re looking at the bloke they thought they were voting for before the election and then what his actions are. And during the bushfire crisis, the nation stepped up, except for this Prime Minister.


GILBERT: Finally, you’ve called for a national summit when it comes to family and domestic violence. It’s obviously, as you and the Prime Minister spoke of, it’s broken the hearts of the nation, what we have seen out of Brisbane and in Townsville again. It’s horrific. How does this summit do you think contribute to our nation’s response to this scourge?


ALBANESE: Well, one of the things that it would do, Kieran, is to focus attention on it, is to give voice to the advocates and the experts about ways forward, is to provide recommendations so that the sort of circumstances where Hannah and her three beautiful children were killed in such a barbaric way has shocked the nation. That should galvanise the nation into action. One woman every week, on average, in this country dies at the hand of a partner or an ex-partner. I think the Prime Minister and I agree today, there’s no room for excuses. There’s no room for weasel words. And getting together to galvanise that attention and focus, would in my view be a good thing. I said this, I raised this issue back in May. I don’t raise it as a partisan issue. I think that this needs to be well above politics. We all know people who’ve been directly affected by domestic and family violence. And we all know the impact it has on women and children. And this country just needs to act. We are better than this. But it’s a scourge. The first thing to do is to call it out. And today in the Parliament, it was called out. And all sides, every parliamentarian rose as one out of respect for Hannah Clarke and her family. And that was a gesture. Gestures do matter. And getting people talking about these issues, which a national summit would do, part of what we’ve got to do, Kieran is to talk, call it out if we see bad behaviour and talk to our friends. The statistics are so great that unfortunately, you and I must know perpetrators. That’s just a statistical fact. And the more we focus on it, the more chance we have, in my view, and in the view of the experts, I called for a national summit after talking to some experts, and I think it would be a good thing if that occurred. And I hope it’s taken up.


GILBERT: Well, it’s hard to see it doing any harm. That’s for sure. Labor Leader, Anthony Albanese. Appreciate your time. Talk to you soon. Thanks for that.


ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Kieran.